I’m not a good camper and slept badly, waking with aching bones from the hard ground despite my thermarest. Camping is cheap and convenient, saving time hunting down hotels and B&B’s with vacant rooms and bike storage space, it’s such a shame it’s so uncomfortable. We were up at 07:00 but didn’t leave until 09:45, can’t remember why it took us so long to get away. The first short section along the B5065 was fairly busy, but then we turned off along a lovely quiet late through the peaceful village of Hodnet. We were really enjoying Shropshire, it’s gentle pastoral countryside and unspoilt villages off the main roads.
We continued east through Stoke on Tern and negotiated a route through a tricky network of farm lanes to reach Cheswardine. We threaded our way across to Eccleshall, thronged with people and preparing for their weekend Victorian Street Festival. At the delicatessen we bought Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, bread and local strawberries which formed a top quality picnic lunch, taken in the churchyard. Tea and cakes were being served in the church hall so we made our contribution towards their restoration fund.
The roads were less pleasant from here. We crossed the West Coast Main Line at Norton Bridge, then the M6 motorway and into Stone, disfigured by the busy roads that dominate the town, spotty youths in baseball caps making a racket in noisy old cars. As we passed south of Stoke on Trent even the minor roads were busy, we were liking Staffordshire a lot less than Shropshire. Cheadle, a small town to the east of the city is as bad as Stone. We bought our dinner requisites at the supermarket here, then made our way to Oakamoor. There’s a Youth Hostel here, but it had been hired by a group for the weekend so we settled for a camp site.
The site was close by an amazing reclamation depot, hosting redundant telephone boxes, log flumes and even two diesel shunting locomotives. The site was very busy, lots of young adults and families with excited children. It dawned on us that it was the start of the weekend and we were close to Alton Towers. After our camp dinner we called in at the site bar and watched some of the Croatia v Turkey Euro 2008 game. We had to fit in this holiday between Rowan’s college exam and my work commitments so I’m away from home and missing all the lovely football.